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8 months ago
Admissions Advice

Should I submit an Arts Portfolio to highly selective schools?
Answered

Hi,

I really like art and I want to submit an arts portfolio highlighting all the work I have done in visual arts and photography. However, I have literally never taken an art/photography class (except the mandatory ones in middle school) and I'm not sure whether my art is institute-level. I've also never submitted my art to any competitions because I hate doing that so I'm even less sure if my artwork is worthy.

What should I do? Should I submit or not? Who should I get my art reviewed by?

applications
arts
harvard
Supplement
UPenn
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1 answer

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Accepted Answer
8 months ago

This is an excellent question and a difficult one to answer. There are two critical things to remember here. First, arts portfolios on their own probably won't make or break your chances of admission at a given school. Second, it's likely that the admissions officers reviewing your application won't know much if anything about art. (It's conceivable that they may forward your work to the visual arts department to ask for feedback, but I wouldn't count on this happening or it really affecting your chances of admission if it does.)

This is all to say that if you want to use your passion and talent for art to your benefit in your application, there are more effective ways to do so. Writing an excellent essay on this subject would be one approach. Although you say you hate competitions, winning or placing in them is definitely the most effective way to signal and quantify talent to an admissions officer. This doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't also submit an arts portfolio! These are just the best ways to use your skills to your advantage in the admissions process.

Whether or not you should submit an arts portfolio will always be a highly subjective issue. If you believe that your art is impressive to the untrained eye, then I recommend that you submit it. If there's a good chance your admission officers won't value, understand, or appreciate your art, you might consider not submitting. Of course you should definitely get some opinions on whether it makes sense to submit your work from artists, art teachers, and/or art students whom you trust.

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